NFL playoffs: Cowboys beat Bucs, divisional round awaits
A scintillating wild-card weekend in the NFL playoffs ended with a snoozer. The Dallas Cowboys cruised to a 31-14 win over Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night. The Cowboys’ first road playoff win in 30 years was largely devoid of drama after a weekend full of tight games and incredible comebacks. Now it’s on to the divisional round, which begins Saturday. In the AFC, the Chiefs will host the Jaguars while the Bills host the Bengals. In the NFC, the Cowboys travel to the 49ers while the Giants hit the road against the Eagles.
Bucs: Gage in hospital with neck injury, to have more tests
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — The Tampa Bay Buccaneers say wide receiver Russell Gage has movement in his extremities after suffering a neck injury and concussion in the team’s wild-card playoff game against Dallas. Gage will continue to undergo more tests in the hospital after spending the night there. He tweeted Tuesday that he was “doing great and in great spirits” and thanked people for their texts, calls, thoughts and prayers. Gage was injured Monday night when he stumbled on a route, went to the ground, couldn’t make the catch and took a hard shot to the neck from Donovan Wilson. Gage appeared to try to get up but couldn’t and slammed his hand into the ground in frustration. He was taken off the field by stretcher.
After playoff dud, Brady faces choice of whether to continue
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — If Tom Brady retires in the offseason, he’ll walk away following one of the worst playoff games of his career. The seven-time Super Bowl champion had a tough night against Micah Parsons and the Dallas Cowboys, tossing his first red-zone interception with the Buccaneers in a 31-14 loss that ended Tampa Bay’s up-and-down season Monday night. Brady won’t be returning home to the Bay Area for a rematch against Brock Purdy and the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC divisional round. He may be going home for good, however. The 45-year-old, five-time Super Bowl MVP already retired once after last season only to return 40 days later. He said he’ll take more time to make his decision this time around.
Cowboys’ Brett Maher misses 4 extra points, converts 5th try
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Dallas Cowboys kicker Brett Maher missed four straight extra points in his team’s NFC wild-card game against Tampa Bay, becoming the first player in NFL history to miss that many in a game. Maher’s misses were the only thing going wrong for the Cowboys, who led the Buccaneers 24-0 after his 0-fer. Maher finally kicked one through the uprights on his fifth try, giving Dallas a 31-6 lead in the fourth quarter. The NFL said Maher was the first kicker to miss four extra points in a game since the statistic was first tracked for individual players in 1932.
Staley to return as Chargers coach; Lombardi fired as OC
COSTA MESA, Calif. (AP) — Brandon Staley will be back for a third season as the Los Angeles Chargers head coach. The same can not be said for some of his offensive staff. The team on Tuesday announced that offensive coordinator Joe Lombardi and quarterbacks coach Shane Day have been fired after two years. Criticism about Lombardi’s play-calling increased throughout the season. The Chargers were ranked ninth in total offense, but 20th in scrimmage yards per play along with the third-worst rushing attack in the league.
Prescott’s playoff answer positions Cowboys to alter history
FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott has answered one of the worst games of his career with one of his best. The 31-14 wild-card victory over Tom Brady and Tampa Bay has the Cowboys thinking about changing more history. The win ended an eight-game road playoff losing streak that was tied for the second longest in NFL history. Now Dallas visits San Francisco looking to end a six-game losing streak in the divisional round. That’s the longest skid since the 1970 merger. Prescott is drawing high praise from plenty of important people. The list includes club owner Jerry Jones and the most recent Dallas QB to win a Super Bowl, ESPN analyst Troy Aikman.
Investigators: Miles provided gun in fatal shooting
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) — Authorities say a University of Alabama basketball player charged with capital murder provided the gun used in the fatal shooting. Investigators wrote in a court document that Darius Miles admitted to providing the handgun immediately before the shooting. Another man is accused of firing the gun and killing a young woman near the university’s campus, according to court documents filed in Tuscaloosa. Miles and Michael Davis are charged with capital murder in the shooting death of Jamea Harris early Sunday. The University of Alabama said in a statement that Miles is no longer on the team. Defense lawyers for Miles released a statement saying Miles maintains his innocence and that he and his family “are heartbroken” over Harris’ death.
Novak Djokovic gets warm Australian Open welcome, then wins
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Novak Djokovic has returned to the Australian Open with a straight-set victory in the first round over Roberto Carballes Baena. Djokovic did not play at Melbourne Park in 2022 because his visa was revoked and he was deported from the country for not having been vaccinated against COVID-19. He is still not vaccinated but the coronavirus restrictions have been eased. Djokovic is seeking a 10th title at the Australian Open and 22nd Grand Slam trophy overall. That would tie rival Rafael Nadal for the most by a man in the history of tennis. The 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 win over the 75th-ranked Carballes Baena marked Djokovic’s 22nd win in a row at Melbourne Park.
Australian Open offers reminders that sports reflect society
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Tennis, in particular, and sports, in general, can’t help but reflect society. And that means athletes, spectators and the folks who run leagues and events must contend with and perhaps confront whatever the prevailing global touchpoints are at any given time. A pandemic. A war. Mental health. #MeToo. Gun violence. And so on. The Australian Open, the Grand Slam tournament that began this week in Melbourne, is offering reminders of that. Novak Djokovic was greeted warmly in his return to the event after missing it a year ago because he isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19. On Tuesday, the tournament barred flags representing Russia or Belarus because of the invasion of Ukraine.
37.0 at 38: LeBron James goes on scoring tear after birthday
LOS ANGELES (AP) — LeBron James has picked up speed at a time in life when all but the world’s greatest athletes are slowing down. James celebrated his 38th birthday last month by scoring 47 points, and the second-leading scorer in NBA history has been on a vintage roll ever since. James is averaging 37.0 points, 9.7 rebounds and 8.6 assists for the Los Angeles Lakers in his last seven games since turning 38. He has three 40-point performances in that stretch, including a season-high 48-point effort in a victory over Houston.